CHUSS Seminar– Dr Adam Branch presents research on the political violence of Non-Fossil fuel in Uganda

The new wave of massive industrial production of charcoal in Northern Uganda is causing destructive consequences that need urgent political Dr Adam Branchintervention. One of such consequences is extreme deforestation that is posing a serious ecological crisis. Forests are being cut down with impunity and the perpetrators, mainly big shots in Government continuously issue threats to whoever tries to intervene to avert the crisis. This is partly due to lack of an institutional framework to regulate charcoal production in the country. In his research work titled “Charcoal Power: The Political Violence of Non-Fossil fuel in Uganda”, Dr Adam Branch explains that ignoring the politics and violence involved in charcoal production will result into grave consequences. Highlighting the plight of small scale producers in Northern Uganda, Dr Adam Branch notes that massive production of charcoal has escalated political violence in the region but has been largely ignored in the academic and policy narrative. He calls for State intervention to minimize the crisis.

Dr Adam Branch presented the research work at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) lunchtime seminar held on 13th April, 2018 at the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University. Dr Adam Branch is the Director, Centre for African Studies at the University of Cambridge, UK.

The research work is part of the 18 month project titled “Narratives of Conflict, Climate, and Development: Re-envisioning Sustainability from Post-War Northern Uganda”. The research project largely seeks to explore community perceptions and responses to climate change. Dr Adam Branch is the Principal Investigator and Dr Paul Omach, Head Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Makerere University is the Co-Investigator.

The CHUSS seminar series are coordinated by Dr Sarah Ssali, Dean School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University.

Dr Branch presenting his research workOverview of Dr Adam Branch’s research work

Title: Charcoal Power: The Political Violence of Non-Fossil Fuel in Uganda

The politics of global energy are subject to increasing academic interest. Most work focuses on oil, based upon a normative vision of an energy modernity of fossil fuels and a coming transition to renewable energy. In most African countries, however, the most prevalent source of energy is not oil, but woodfuel. Charcoal is of particular importance due to its centrality to urbanization: charcoal is the primary energy source for up to 80% of urban Africa, and its consumption is expected to continue increasing with expanding urbanization. This work-in-progress explores the politics of charcoal through an in-depth study of charcoal extraction in northern Uganda. The paper argues that, by placing charcoal in its political and historical context, we can understand its extraction as a continuation of the violence of the twenty-year northern war. By focusing on the political violence of energy, the orthodox academic and policy narrative about the charcoal industry in Africa can be called into question, as can broader narratives of energy modernity and global energy politics.


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